Monday, December 5, 2011

What are the functions of an Article in English Grammar

What Are the Functions of an

Article in English Grammar?


English language uses

three words as articles:

"a" for indefinite singular

nouns starting with a

consonant sound, "an" for

indefinite singular nouns

starting with a vowel

sound and "the" for

definite nouns. The

number of specific rules

and exceptions regarding

usage can frustrate

students of English as a

second language, but most

uses of articles fall under

a few fundamental rules.

A/An : Substitute for One or


This is the most common

use of indefinite articles.

You should use a or an

before any singular

countable noun that is

indefinite. For example,

you say, "This morning I

saw a dog." Use a

because the dog is not

your dog nor the only dog

in town, it is just one dog

that you happened to see.

A/An : Frequency or Allotment

You say, "The show costs

$20 a person," or "I visit

my relatives twice a year."

Using a or an in this way

denotes frequency or


A/An : One Single

Using a or an in this way is

a little old-fashioned, but

you can still see and hear

it used. A or an can be

used in negative sentences

to state emphatically "a

single". For example, you

say, "We had not a thing

to eat," or "There was not

a tree in sight."

The: Known Things

This is the most common

use of the. Use the when

talking about definite

things that your audience

already knows about or

that are obvious. For

example, you say, "I

spilled my drink on the

carpet." Use the because

you did not spill your drink

on just any carpet; it was

a specific carpet in a

specific place that your

audience knows about.

The: Things Already


Use the to refer to

something that you have

already mentioned. For

example, you say, "I saw a

dog this morning," when

you first mention the dog

but later you should say,

"The dog looked hungry."

Every time you refer to

the dog after this, you

should use the.

The: Something Unique

Use the to refer to things

that are unique. For

example, you say, "I saw

the Queen of England."

There is only one Queen of

England. If you say, "I saw

a Queen of England," you

are implying that there are

many Queens of England.

The: Superlatives

Use the with superlatives.

For example, you say,

"This is the most

expensive steak I have

ever eaten," or, "Russia is

the biggest country in the

world." You use the for

both of these examples

because you are talking

about single, unique and

specific things.

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